The division needs responses back by the end of August to meet Gov. Frank Murkowski's goal of getting oil and gas exploration under way in the region by fall, 2004. Preparing a state Best Interest Finding and going through the required public consultation process will take about a year, according to Mark Myers, director of the Division of Oil and Gas. The state will hold conventional state oil and gas lease sales later in the southern part of the basin, Myers said. That will require a separate Best Interest Finding, but much of the information prepared for exploration licensing can be used in the document prepared for the lease sale, he said.
Potential oil-bearing sediments are thinner in the northern part of the basin, which is why the state decided to go with exploration licensing, Myers said. Licenses give companies a large block of acreage to explore, in return for a work commitment negotiated with the state. If discoveries are made, some of the acreage can be converted to state oil and gas leases. I
Potential oil-bearing sediments are thicker in the southern part of the basin and in this region the state will offer conventional leases, although they will be offered area-wide, Myers said.
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